What is causing my car's brake switch to break?
December 1, 2012 12:50 PM   Subscribe

What could be causing my car's brake switch to break down?

I have a 1998 ford escort station wagon. For some reason, the brake switch keeps breaking down. I've had this part replaced a few times in the past six months and it just went out again.

The service shop will replace the part at no cost, but it still takes up my time to keep dealing with this issue. Besides replacing the part, what could I ask the service shop to check for that may explain what is causing the part to repeatedly break down?

Thanks in advance for your help.
posted by Gosha_Dog to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
Is it actually the switch?

What happened to my SO was this little (blue on my SO's ZX2) plastic or rubber insert that holds the switch off when the brake is not depressed broke into tiny pieces. And lo, the brake lights came to be on constantly. The bits of the insert on the floor mat made it kinda obvious what had happened. We got a replacement from the dealer that lasted a year or two before we got rid of the car. It was like 98 cents or something, although it took a good long while for us to figure out what exactly it was so they could find it. For some reason the exploded diagram didn't show it.

I assume the underlying cause is the extreme heat in summer causing the material to get more brittle over time, but a replacement that hasn't been procured from a junk yard should last a reasonable length of time. The original on my SO's car lasted a good five years, after all. If not, you can always buy a bunch of them and just replace them as needed. It's really easy to do if that's the actual problem.
posted by wierdo at 2:48 PM on December 1, 2012

How does it break? Do the brake lights stay on, or never go on?
posted by gjc at 5:03 PM on December 1, 2012

Response by poster: yes, the brake lights stay on and I have to use a screwdriver and stock it into the override to shift into gear.
posted by Gosha_Dog at 6:26 PM on December 1, 2012

If you put your foot under the brake pedal, can you lift it up and make the switch turn the brake lights off? Maybe there is something wrong with the braking system, or there is just some wear in the system, to the point that the standard brake switch isn't adjusted right?
posted by gjc at 4:15 AM on December 2, 2012

Gosha_Dog: "yes, the brake lights stay on and I have to use a screwdriver and stock it into the override to shift into gear."

That's bizarre. If the switch is sensing that the brake pedal is depressed (and we know it is because the brake lights are on), the transmission should unlock. There is only one brake sensor on an Escort of that vintage.

The switch itself (if you have cruise control) is listed on fordparts.com as part number SW-5147 and lists for $57.14. The other version is listed as a SWE 2073-A and lists for $26.22. The rubber thingie I was talking about is actually a clutch pedal stop pad (part number 7583), if my memory and the site are correct. If both of those have been replaced (and gluing the stop pad back together doesn't count) then you have some sort of wiring problem.
posted by wierdo at 2:47 PM on December 2, 2012

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